Week 82 | Townsville to Mission Beach

Day 568 – 572: Townsville

Week 82 is the final week of an epic journey around Australia. After leaving Mission Beach just over eighteen months ago we never would have thought that we would still be on the road in August 2020. It has been the most exciting times of our lives. Travelling is addictive and it will always be a part of our life in the future.

This week sees us still in Townsville waiting on the Ford dealership to resolve the issue with our car. Needless to say it’s very frustrating. On the positive side we get to spend more time with my family.

We have caught up with Wendy for morning tea to celebrate her birthday and had craft again followed by drinks next door with Julie’s neighbours. It has been really lovely to have the time to catch up with so many friends.

Waking up this morning to a heavy dew and fog. It’s a real pea souper. We hope to pick up our car this afternoon and then head home to Mission Beach in the morning.

Day 572: Townsville to Mission beach

The final day of our journey. Time to say goodbye to the family at 8.16am and head for home. There are mixed emotions as we drive the familiar road. Lush green mountains and fields of sugar cane. It’s always a warm fuzzy feeling.

We arrive around lunch time and park the van on the front lawn. It’s great to see Raymond again too. The house is lovely and tidy and the gardens have grown so much. It’s a very strange feeling being back at the house, quite overwhelming really. We are going to stay in the van as we’re only going to be home for a week before we head off on a holiday from the holiday! Minus the caravan and minus Cinta…

It’s so great to see our neighbours again; Gunther and Barbara. Gunther meticulously cuts our golden sheena hedge which spans the full length of our driveway, clears our gutters of the thousands and thousands of leaves that collect from the other neighbours trees, mows our grass and sweeps leaves from our driveway. We are forever greatful to Gunther and we can’t thank him enough for everything that he has done for us while we have been away.

Tonight we’re catching up at Spicy Thai with 18 of our friends; our Friday night dinner crew. What an awesome night, great food, great company and a great welcome back home. A big thanks to Jackie and Keith, the food certainly didn’t disappoint. I forgot to get a photo….must have had too many scotches…

We just had to do sunrise this morning. Stepping onto the beach the feeling of being home just flooded our minds. While it wasn’t the best sunrise we’ve seen at Mission Beach it certainly was one that cemented any doubts of ever leaving this piece of paradise on a permanent basis.

The weekend ahead is packed with a long awaited scrabble game with my crazy girlfriends, (wow, what a catch up!), dinner with the Bingil Bay Bunch and catching up with new friends from the Gold Coast who are here in Mission Beach. We are so blessed to have so many friends in our life – we love you all so much and have missed you all like you wouldn’t believe. Many people have asked us on our journey what have we missed the most and our answer is always “our family and friends”. Cheers to being home….if only for a short time for now…

For those of you who are interested, here’s some of our stats over the past 572 days.

Fuel – most expensive; Erldunda NT $2.05 p/l cheapest; Gladstone $1.02 p/l$8,218.15
Gas – most expensive; Exmouth WA $43 8.5kg swap n go$352.75
Groceries – if only we didn’t have to eat…$15,226.84
Accommodation – most expensive; Broome $54 included $2 dog fee!
106 nights house sitting
2 nights in a State Forest
1 night in a cabin at Wave Rock
2 nights in a BnB at Margaret River
199 nights free camping or with family
261 nights, caravan parks, turf clubs, golf clubs, RSL’s, showgrounds
$8,407.77
Maintenance – most expensive; Devonport 4 x car tyres$5,064.44
Eating Out – we don’t miss out on anything!$7,523.03
Alcohol – you can’t miss out on happy hour! That’s what it’s all about….$2,245.27
Experiences – most expensive; Horizontal Falls – Derby – worth every $$6,307.17
Mobile phone & WiFi router$3,384.00
Other sundry expenses – including insurances, registrations, RACQ road assist, medications, Cinta’s expenses, donations and laundry costs$14,515.96
Total cost over 572 days; averages $112.72 per day$64,475.38
Travel distance – 42,589km

Wildlife: dead pig, dead echidna, dead kangaroos, dead bandicoot

Everyone asks if we would do it again. Let’s just say, it’s not over yet. That’s a wrap for our journey around Australia. We hope you’ve enjoyed travelling with us.

Week 82 total expenses: $353.51

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Week 63 | Brisbane

Day 435 – 441 Brisbane

Life as we know it is changing every hour of every day as our country navigates through Coronavirus.  This week we are working on keeping ourselves occupied as we become accustomed to spending more time at home.  Each day is spent with time allocated for work and time allocated for pleasure.

We’re continuing to play darts and walk Cinta at least twice a day.

We took a drive to Ferny Grove and couldn’t believe the changes in the surrounding suburbs over the past 17 years since we called Brisbane home. We always say we should never go back and look at previous properties we owned, however our property at Dornoch Crescent was the first home that Andrew and I bought together. It was my dream house. We put so much time into the garden and it was a shame today to see the condition that it is now in. I couldn’t get a photo as there were people in the front yard.

We couldn’t take a trip down memory lane without driving past Bickles. On 4th October 2003 we were married there, had our reception and spent our wedding night in the luxurious French Provincial guest house. It is now known as Topiaries and is an exclusive wedding venue.

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Whilst the gates were locked, it still looked beautiful and bought back so many wonderful memories of an amazing day.  Pictured above is Mum walking me out to the gazebo and Andrew and I signing our marriage certificate. Red is one of my favourite colours.  It’s such an emotionally intense colour symbolising desire, passion and love.

With all the restrictions coming into force Andrew’s family has made a decision to no longer visit the house to keep everyone safe.  Scott and Leslie are face timing so that Seth and Heath can still see their grandad and keep the communication lines open.  Julie, Nicole and Kev came for one last roast dinner and we hope that we may all be able to see each other before we eventually leave.

We also took Dave for a drive out to Redcliffe to have fish and chips by the beach.  We practiced our social distancing while ordering the take away.  There was no one else in the cafe anyway and we sat down at the closed lagoon on our own.  It was lovely to be able to have a drive and see the ocean again.

I am feeling the need to be creative again.  My suitcase full of art materials has come out and I am all set up outside on the patio. The biggest challenge is finding something to paint.  I have so many beautiful photos and as I’m an Arian, it’s a very difficult decision!

We’ve signed Dave up for online shopping and will give that a go to see how it all works.  That will be one less place to go for essential shopping.  This week and the coming weeks blog may be quite short given the new restrictions on life as we know it. Until next time, stay safe and healthy and keep smiling.  We’ve got this!

Let me know what you’re doing to keep yourself occupied…

Week 63 total expenses: $458.63 under budget.

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That’s a wrap for Week 63 of the Lap of the Map.

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Week 23 | Bullara Station to Carnarvon

Day 155: Bullara Station to Exmouth

It’s Andrew’s birthday today and I’ve asked him to wake me up early so we can watch the sunrise together. Half an hour before sunrise is the optimum time to get the best photographs. It’s really cold, I have leggings on & tracky daks, heat socks, a spencer, long sleeved shirt & my spray jacket with the hoodie up. I don’t know how I’ll survive winter in Perth let alone Tasmania! There are people taking sunrise photos in shorts & T-shirts.

Sunrise is another amazing display of colour in the sky. It’s a great opportunity to use the old cars as a focal point in my photos.  I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s very picturesque.

Time to get breakfast and get ourselves packed up and ready for morning tea before we leave. The barista coffee, scones with jam and cream are nothing short of delicious. Good old fashioned country baking.  We enjoy them on the verandah of the homestead.

We are heading for Exmouth which is a short trip of 91km. The countryside varies from wide flat plains with termite mounds to grassy fields and mountains in the distance. Purple Wild flowers are becoming predominant along the highway.

We’ve decided to go a further 30km around the top of the Cape to the Yardie Homestead Caravan Park. It’s a large park not far from the Cape Range National Park. They generate their own power so there are restrictions on what electrical equipment you can use on your site. We decide to take an unpowered site at $32 p/night as we are fully self contained.

The park has a cafe and restaurant which I was planning to take Andrew out to dinner but unfortunately they are not open until Wednesday. I’ve made another one of his favourites beef enchiladas in the Ziggy after a few celebratory drinks with our friends.  Winner!

Wildlife: corellas, galahs, sheep, cattle, seagulls, Australian bustard, rainbow bee eaters.

Day 156 – 158: Exmouth

Andrew and Tim have headed out to 5 mile beach to try their luck fishing again. I have work to be done so another morning is spent tapping away at the keyboard.

The fisherman return with empty bags, what a disappointment. They tried several spots including the marina but no luck again. We need to top up on supplies and head into Exmouth to the shops. The shopping complex is poorly designed and the parking is horrendous. There is two IGA’s right across from each other. One apparently has basic staples and the other has specialty items. I find everything we need in the specialty store.  On the way back to the park we drive up to the lighthouse and the view is amazing. Azure blue ocean as far as your eyes can see.

This afternoon we’ve met some of our neighbours. They are from Perth and have been coming to this park for the past 18 years for 3 months to escape the winter. I can’t imagine returning to the same place each year after being on the road and seeing what this vast country has to offer. There are so many spectacular places to visit and there is so much that we have yet to see.

We’ve decided to stay an extra day as I have more work to do and we haven’t had the opportunity to see the beaches. This morning we are taking a drive along the beaches of the Cape. The views are breathtaking. The ocean is crashing far out on the reef, it’s mesmerising watching the waves roll into the shoreline. I could watch the ocean all day long and never tire of the sight.

Exmouth has an art gallery which I am keen to visit. Andrew drops me off while he does the swap-n-go gas bottle. You know you are in a remote location when it’s $43 and you are used to paying $29 at home. The gallery is housed in the old Visitor Information Centre and is run by volunteers. I introduce myself to the administrator and we have a lengthy conversation about their Centre and the challenges they face with finding volunteers to keep the doors open.

Exmouth is a township of younger people, most of whom are working to support their families and Tourism is their main industry. There are some lovely artworks on display. Across the road is the Ningaloo Discovery Centre which houses the Council Chambers, Library, Visitor Information Centre, Aquarium and coffee shop. It’s an impressive new building. Morning tea is in order and Andrew has spotted his all time favourite vanilla slice. On the rating scale it’s a 9.9 from him. I can’t resist a mouthful and I’d score it an 11!

There are a couple of “big things” in Exmouth; a prawn and a whale shark. The obligatory photo is taken and sent to my son Conrad. He will appreciate both as he works on the trawlers out of Karumba and he saw a whale shark on a recent trip.

More work has come in for me so we are extending another day. This morning we are taking a drive through the Cape Range National Park. The entry fee is by vehicle; $13 which is much more reasonable than Uluru at $25 per person.

The drive through passes many beaches where camping is by permit. Most without facilities so being self contained is a must. The Milyering Information Centre is not far from the park entry point and you can book your camping or tours from the Centre. They also hire out a beach accessible wheelchair, the first I have seen, what a great idea.

We travel all the way to the end of the sealed road at Yardie Creek. The beach access is a short walk over the sand dunes and the view once again is breathtaking. I can imagine sitting here with a canvas and painting the turquoise water.

We stop at many of the beaches, each spectacular in their own right. Back at the park we pick up Cinta and take her down to Janz beach where dogs are allowed. Over the sand dunes and the tide is coming in fast. The water is crystal clear and there are at least a dozen people fishing off the beach. We head in the opposite direction so Cinta can enjoy the water, it’s cold and the current is fast. She bounds straight back to the beach. There are plenty of shells at Janz beach and lots of sea urchins in a variety of colours. Time to head home and start tapping on the keyboard.

Wildlife: 2 emus, 2 turtle, corellas, doves, galahs, seagulls.

Day 159:  Exmouth to Lyndon River

It’s time to move on again today and we are packed up by 9.00am and heading off to look at Coral Bay. There is no free camping there and only one park that takes dogs. We’ve been told the park has extremely small sights and the reviews on Wikicamps are mixed. Driving in is bedlam, narrow streets, dead ends, vehicles parked everywhere and loads of people walking the very small township. There is no place to park the van. Every inch of real estate is taken. We have just managed to turn around and have headed back out. To say I am disappointed is an understatement and at $70 for a site it seems this small town is capitalising on its assets.

Further on we have passed over the Tropic of Capricorn, just a small sign with bullet holes in it. What a shame there is no monument to mark the place.  We are free camping tonight at Lyndon River. There’s no water here. It is saddens us to see so many large river beds in this state with not a drop of water to be found.  The free camp is a  large dirt space with one toilet which is surprisingly clean for an outback drop loo.   The flies drive us inside.

Telstra reception is weak. The afternoon is spent looking through the travel magazines we picked up and reading about the next few locations we plan to visit. I’ve been chatting to a lovely kiwi guy who is heading to Exmouth to do some surfing. He wanted to meet Cinta as he recently lost his labrador border collie cross and was missing having a dog around.

Happy hour is early tonight followed by watching the sun set. There is little cloud cover so it’s not particularly exciting. Tonight’s dinner is an easy chicken stir fry and then we’ll have an early night.

The stars are amazing. Jupiter is spotted first, followed by the Southern Cross and the Milky Way is right above our van. How I wish I could take a great solar shot, it’s not an easy feat.

Wildlife: horses, corellas, galahs, doves, sheep, cattle, dead kangaroos, flies.

Day 160 – 161:  Lyndon River to Carnarvon

We have all slept in this morning and missed sunrise. There is quite a lot of cloud cover so it would have been a beauty. A cup of tea in bed is followed by bacon and eggs today and then we are packed up and on the road by 9.00am.

We’re only travelling 160km today which gets us into Carnarvon by 11.00am.  Driving in along the highway makes us feel like we are back home.  Banana Plantations adorn the highway, they don’t look as healthy as the ones back home and they are planted very close together.  I can’t wait to try a banana from the local food stalls along the roadside as I haven’t had a decent banana since we left Mission Beach.

Carnarvon is a caravanning hotspot with 7 parks here, 6 of which accept pets.  We’ve checked them all out on Wikicamps and have decided to stay at the Capricorn Caravan Park which is the furthest out of town, but they have very good reviews.  They also have a stay 7 pay for 6 deal which brings down the weekly rate to $31.72 per night for a powered site.  Perfect.

The park offers a full week of events from happy hour, bingo, pizza nights, camp oven dinners and bowling.  After booking in and getting all the info on the area, we are met by Colin who takes us around to our site and guides Andrew in with ease.  We are set up in no time.  A visit to Woolies and BWS is needed to stock up on supplies and grog.  It’s an expensive shopping trip.

The wind has picked up this afternoon and after discussions with our neighbours we decide to take the awning back in as rain is also expected.  We have seen very little rain, nothing more than light drizzle since we left Mission Beach.

During the night the rain is pouring down and we are both up closing the vents and windows.  Carnarvon received 35ml of rain overnight.  Apparently the most they have received at once in over 5 years.  There are quite a few puddles around the park.  The ground is hard clay and there is nowhere for it to run off.

With rain and wind predicted for the day we are stuck inside the caravan, which is something most unusual for us to experience.  A trip to have a look around the township is needed to break up the day.  Carnarvon has quite a bit of street art and it’s the perfect time to photograph it on a Sunday when there is little traffic parked in the streets.

Tonight is State of Origin only two words required: Go Queensland!

Wildlife: flies, dead kangaroos, crows, hawks, seagulls, corellas, galahs.

Week 23 total expenses:  $946.17, we have had a couple of big fuel and grocery expenses this week.  Let’s hope staying in the one place for the week will help to get that figure down a bit next week.

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That’s a wrap for Week 23 of the Lap of the Map.

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Devenish Silos

Week 5 | Chiltern to Cobram

Day 29 – 31 | Chiltern

We continue to enjoy our time at Chiltern and decide to stay an extra day so that I can catch up on work.  The day is started as usual with a sleep in, a morning cuppa, a bit of brekkie and a walk around the lake.  After “doing the housework” as I call it, which takes 5 minutes, we head off into town for morning tea at the local bakery.  It’s only a 5 minute walk from the Lakeside Caravan Park.  We have always loved going out for morning tea, in Mission Beach the girls at Cafe Bang Bang would welcome us with “it must be date day!

A very cool night for us with temperatures plummeting to 8 degrees.  I’m teleconferencing in for a board meeting this morning for a few hours and then we head off to Rutherglen, a historic gold mining town now turned into a premier wine growing region.  We pass many vineyards and cellar doors along the way.  The township has a lovely 19th century charm with many historic buildings and antique shops.

Overnight there is a light shower of rain and the wind picks up.  Andrew brings in the awning just in case the wind gets out of control.  It’s 9 degrees and I’m cold.  There is more work to be done this morning and then time in the afternoon for another walk around the lake.  Andrew has seen a sign at the pub saying it’s parmi night.  He’s a big fan of a good parmi so we decide to treat ourselves.  Wow, what a parmi; it’s the biggest we have ever seen and it’s up there with the best.

Wildlife:  Wild ducks, pelicans, swans, red belly black snake, rabbits, llamas, alpacas, blue wrens.

Day 32 – 33 | Chiltern to Benalla

We are heading out today on the M31 for Benalla.  There are plenty of trucks and other vehicles scooting past us on the motorway.  Everyone is in a hurry.  We usually sit on 80-85 on the motorways as the turbulence from the trucks is unreal.  I can just imagine them thinking, another old fart in a caravan! And a Queenslander!

Our campsite tonight is at the Benalla Showgrounds.  A low cost of $12 per night.  The only facilities are rubbish bins and toilets.  The male toilet building is derelict, so it’s shared facilities with the female toilets. It’s a large grassy area with plenty of trees and behind the grounds are several churches and the old courthouse.  The old courthouse is where the Kelly family where trialed on several occasions and where Ned Kelly was held in his cell on many charges.

We decide to take a walk across the road to the Botanical Gardens.  The smell of roses is wafting in the breeze, there is every colour and type you can imagine.  I’m in heaven.  Busy snapping photos again.  The gardens are also home to the Weary Dunlop Memorial Statue and an Avenue of Honour.

Adjacent to the gardens is the Benalla Art Gallery set on the picturesque Lake Benalla.  I was fortunate to be able to view the current exhibitions; Future Perfect, Monster Mash & Colouring Lake Mokoan.  Some amazing work by incredible artists.

This morning we head off early to take a walk around Benalla’s township to view the street art.  The Visitor Information Centre has a town map which has information about the artworks and the artists. There is an annual Wall to Wall festival which attracts thousands to the town to view the works by international and local street artists.  The festival includes workshops, painting by numbers, street art tours and light projections.  We are too early for the festival as it’s held in March/April.  I’m disappointed as it would be a fabulous event to attend.  We spend 3 hours wandering around taking in the creative works on display.  I am told at the Visitor Centre that some works are painted over after a period of time.  I feel saddened hearing that, but then artwork is always an ongoing creation and a living canvas so I can appreciate the concept behind it.

After all that walking we pass a bakery.  Andrew spots the sign “Award Winning 2014 Vanilla Slice”.  Bertalli’s Alpine Bread Bakery.  Stop!  We are such foodies….we have to have a vanilla slice!  Let me tell you, it did not disappoint!  We figure that after all the exercise we have had today, we’re going to shout ourselves take-away at the Dragon Gate Chinese Restaurant.  We don’t have a Chinese take-away in Mission Beach, so we are pretty keen.  It didn’t disappoint either.  Lucky we are travelling pretty good on the budget this week, so a few treats are definitely welcome.  Did I mention that we love food…

Wildlife:  Cattle, cockatoos, galahs, rosellas, roadkill

Day 34 | Benalla to Cobram

I’m excited to leave today.  It’s silo day.  We haven’t got far to travel, about 91km to our destination at Cobram, but there is 3 silo stops along the way.  The first is Goorambat with 2 painted silos.  The artwork is the Barking Owl “Millibai” which means “Winking” in Indigenous dialect.  Painted in March 2018 by Jimmy DVate.  Jimmy is passionate about conservation and highlighting the plight of endangered species.  It does not disappoint.  I’m pleased to see that there is a viewing area, set up with an undercover bench table and seats.  There is also a visitor book and donation box.  I love this idea in a small township of just over 300 people.  I hope all the travellers who view this artwork commit to a dontation, we certainly did.

A short distance away is Sophia of Goorambat.  Her home is the local Uniting Church.  Sophia came to life by Adnate; an artist heavily influenced by the renaissance painters.  The mural is relevant to the culture and ethos of the church and Adnate was generous with his talent.  It is a true spiritual experience.  We leave another donation.

Only 10km away is Devenish, a small township with a population of less than 200.  Home to another 2 amazing painted silos.    The two silos were painted by Cam Scale and we are told that since they were painted the artwork has drawn over 40,000 visitors to the township in one year.  Through the generous donations of the travelling public, enough funds have been raised to have the third silo painted at a festival in April of this year.  Wouldn’t that be a spectacular event to attend.  The artwork depicts the historical nurse and the modern day medic and the role that women fulfilled in caring for military and civilians during the wars, natural disasters, peace keeping and humanitarian operations.  These works are my favourite.  We left a donation.

There is a sign at the viewing area, scones with jam and cream at the pub.  Well, we just couldn’t pass that up could we.  Did I mention we love food…. I think I might have… Piping hot out of the oven, this little country pub (Devenish Community Hotel) ticked all the boxes for our morning tea.  The publicans were very friendly and we enjoyed a great conversation about Devenish, the silo art & travelling.  A ‘must stop’ if you are visiting Devenish.

Further along – 19km is Tungamah, population less than 500.  The two silos are privately owned and the artist is Sobrane Simcock from Broome in Western Australia.  These 2 silos were the first silos to be painted in North East Victoria which set a precedence for other townships to follow.  The celebration of brolgas and the kookaburra are the first silo artwork that Sobrane would complete.  We left a donation.

Cobram is 43km away and will be our home at Boogara Ski Beach along the Murray River.  Irrigation channels run along the highway and fruit orchards are all we can see for miles and miles.  Pink Lady apples (my favourite) and oranges.  Time to unpack, take a walk along the river and a swim for Cinta to cool off in the 36 degree heat.

Wildlife; Kanagaroos, roesllas, galahs, cockatoos, magpies, ducks, sheep, llama.

Week 5 total expenses:  $439.79 We’re pretty happy with that as we haven’t had to buy fuel this week due to staying a little longer in the regional townships.  More money for treating ourselves!

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That’s a wrap for Week 5 of the Lap of the Map.

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Lachlan River Forbes

Week 4 | Coonamble to Chiltern

Day 22 | Coonamble to Peak Hill

We head off from Coonamble to Gulargambone for the next water tower art work.  Painted in 2018 by Jenny McCraken, the works are titled; “Lucky Dip”, a Kingfisher diving into the river.  The art work does not disappoint.  We stop at the park in the centre of the township and take a walk around to view the street art.

Ten artists from around Australia worked on street murals to give the township a makeover.  Two outback icons where Peter Browne and John Murray.  The works are quirky and I just loved photographing them. There is also an amazing sculpture titled “Ghosts of Bullocks Past”.  Sculptured from steel rod and wire netting, it’s a reminder of how wool was transported in the colony days.

The population of Gulargambone is now about 500, people have moved out because of the high crime rate and there are only 2 local shops and a rural supplies shed that are open on the day we visited.

We were walking back to our car and 2 dogs in a property started barking at Cinta.  The woman came out of the house and yelled at us for upsetting her dogs.  It wasn’t a pleasant way to end what had been such a wonderful walk admiring the street art…

As we continue on through to Gilgranda for our morning tea stop the landscape is still dry and barren.  We are on the Newell Highway again and there are plenty of trucks passing us by today.  We notice a change, the landscape is becoming dense with bush lands and there are large boulders along the highway.  We also pass the Tomingley Gold Mine, it was commissioned in 2014 and is a massive site alongside the highway.

We decide to bypass Dubbo and stay at a small caravan park at Peak Hill.  We prefer to support the small regional townships along the way.

Wildlife:  dead kangaroos

Day 23 | Peak Hill

The Double D Caravan Park.  What more can I say.  This park scores a 10/10 for customer service.  When I was looking for a place to stay, the Wikicamps reviews were amazing.  Kev and Deb are great hosts and some of the facilities they provide include:  unleashed dog area, doggy day spa, doggy day care, a camp kitchen which has absolutely everything you can think of, an outdoor dog friendly kitchen area, bath mats and music in the amenities block.  Every  morning there are pancakes for breakfast and if there are only a few people staying, guess what, you get a cooked country breakfast.  The windscreen fairy also visits overnight.  A lot of caravan parks could learn a thing or two from these amazing people.

We set out early this morning to take a walk around the decommissioned open cut gold mine.  There are 3 paths to view the mine site.  We took the goldmine discovery trail approx. 1.3km and some parts were a little challenging for me in the heat. The mine operated from 1996-2005.  Gold was actually first discovered in the Peak Hill area in 1889 and from 1904-1917 it produced in excess of 60,000oz of gold.

Wildlife: parrots, cockatoos, galahs, shetland ponies, budgies.

Day 24 & 25 | Forbes

Leaving Peak Hill this morning for our first stop at Parkes.  It’s time to get the hatch over the shower fixed.  A timely exercise as we had a storm last night at Peak Hill.  Luckily there wasn’t much rain in it.  It’s only a 15 minute job so within no time we are off on the road again.

Slightly cooler weather today at 29 degrees and a similar landscape to yesterday.  Cattle, sheep stations and crops adorn the highway.

On the outskirts of Forbes we detour to see The Dish; Parkes Radio Telescope.  It’s a parabolic Dish 64m in diameter & weighs 1000 tonnes above the control tower.  It certainly is a sight.  The Dish observes 24 hours a day and takes 15 minutes to rotate 360 degrees.

We have found a lovely free camp site at Forbes alongside the Lachlan River.  You can stay for 48 hours and there is water & bins are provided.  Toilets are about .5km away across the road. Bird life aplenty.  I’m madly photographing the pelicans diving for fish along the riverbank.  As we sit in our camp chairs, the reflections in the river are mesmerising and I find my mind is constantly wandering.

Wildlife: Pelican, galahs, wild ducks, water hens, cockatoos, parrots

Day 26 | Forbes to Griffith

We are leaving Forbes this morning and heading to Weethalle where we plan to spend the night at the showgrounds.  The landscape is quite barren apart from the trees adorning the highway.  Their foliage is different this morning, it has a yellowish tinge.  There are many cattle grazing in the paddocks and there are fields of crops.

We arrive at West Wyalong for morning tea.   A dry township with many yards of gravel instead of grass, a clear indication of a drought affected area. We leave the Newell Highway and take the Mid Western Highway through to Weethalle to see our first silo artwork.

The silo artwork depicts farming life in the Weethalle district and Heesco Khosnaran an artist from Melbourne was chosen to paint the silo after being shortlisted with 3 other artists.  The works are amazing and I spend quite a bit of time trying to get the right photograph.  It’s difficult to get a good photo as they are so expansive.

It’s time to head off to the showgrounds to find a spot to camp overnight.  It’s a dust bowl and we can only see 2 power boxes.  One of which is beside a very large fallen tree.  It’s 32 degrees and we decide to travel a little further to see if there is something more interesting along the way.

We are now in Riverina country and the wind is picking up and there are whirly winds all around us in the paddocks whipping up red dirt.  The wind is ferocious and Andrew can feel the sway of the van behind us.  He slows right down.  We pass Rankins Springs and there is a dramatic drop in temperature to 19 degrees.   We could see the storm ahead as we were travelling.  The land is so flat and so dry that the water is all over the road, it’s gushing along the highway.

We are 20k out of Griffith and it so lovely to see vineyards & orange orchards along the highway.  All of a sudden a warning light comes on in the car; tyre pressure low.  There is nowhere to stop on this road, we travel on slowly, not knowing what’s going on.  We arrive at Griffith and immediately pull into a service station.  It’s drizzly and we are both out of the car to see what’s happening with our tyres.  Luckily there is only one tyre that seems to be quite low on air pressure. Topped up and off we go the find the Willow Park Rest Area.

It’s a beautiful lush green park with toilet facilities and a dump point and we are heading for a cool evening.  We have some spare time this afternoon so Andrew suggests I get the drone out again and see if I can get it into flight.  I’ve been doing quite a few tutorials since we left Peak Hill.  I managed to calibrate the IMU there but unfortunately couldn’t calibrate the compass.  I’m hopeful that I can finally do this.  I set my home point and then calibrate the compass and prepare for take off.  Bingo.  Finally.  I am absolutely beside myself!  The battery only last about 15 minutes and when it’s at 30% you need to be heading back home.  The flight is short, however, it is successful.  I can’t wipe the grin off my face…

Wildlife:  Goats, cattle.

Day 27 | Griffith to Lockhart

It’s 16 degrees this morning and it’s a little fresh for us far north Queenslanders.  The Riverina country is lush and the vineyards are irrigated through the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Scheme which runs along the highway.  The landscape is now only vineyards and fruit orchards.  Coming into Leeton there are hundreds of date palms along the highway, they look magnificent.

Lockhart is the home of another painted water tower.  It features a cascading waterfall and local birds.  The work was undertaken by two Blue Mountain artisis, Scott Nagy and Janne Birkner (Krimsone).  It reflects the importance of the regions most vital asset – water.  It’s a difficult tower to photograph as the trees have grown so tall and cover some of the artwork.  I am slightly disappointed.

We encompass another storm on the highway and decide to keep travelling onto Corowa.  Little did we know that Missy Higgins and the John Butler Trio are performing at a local winery.  Traffic is heavy and we are in the middle of it.  There is no trying to turn this caravan around on the highway.

The Ball park Caravan Park is our home for the night.  It’s a very large park and the sites are tight.  It takes us an hour to manouvre the van into position.  We are both exhausted!  It’s cold and drizzly, so we settle down for the night with an expected low of 9 degrees.

Wildlife:  Cockatoo, dead kangaroo, black goats, sheep.

Day 28 | Corowa to Chiltern

Waking up to 9 degrees is fresh.  We decide to rug up and head out of the park for a walk along the mighty Murray River.  There are cockatoos everywhere in the trees, they sure make a mess. The parklands are awash with broken branches from the trees.  There’s a couple of houseboats across the river and I can just imagine hiring one and travelling along the river, it would be so serene.

After two tiring days of travel we decide to cross the border to Chiltern and stay by the lake for 3 nights so that I can prep for the board meeting.  It’s only a short drive, less than 30k!  We arrive at the Lakeside Caravan Park and meet Ty and Esther.  Turns out our friend Wendy from Townsville has been a life long friend of Ty’s parents.  It’s a small world.  The park is really lovely, located right on the lake.  The sites have concrete slabs and lovely green patches of grass.  The amenities are spotless.  I can’t wait to spend a few days here.

Wildlife:  Cockatoos, alpaca, llama, sheep, rabbits, dead baby rabbit.

Week 4 total expenses:  $709.47, up a little from last week due to the expense of repairing the hatch on the caravan and joining a caravan park membership.

If you’d like to see more photos of our journey, you can follow us on Facebook or Instagram:

https://www.facebook.com/ourtimehascomewheretonext 

https://www.instagram.com/ourtimehascomewheretonext

That’s a wrap for Week 4 of the Lap of the Map.

PS: Don’t forget to leave me a comment!

A bit about us…

Hi,  I’m Marcia and this is Andrew.

We’re baby boomers and we’re about to embark on the trip of a lifetime; The Big Lap! We’ve been dreaming and then planning this trip for the past 5 years and now that dream and that plan is a reality.

Andrew retired in June and lucky me; I’ll be working remotely, taking my clients on a road trip to remember!

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This is “Kwila Cottage”,  500m from the beach at Wongaling Beach.   We’ve lived here since 2009 and in 2011 experienced the full force of Cyclone Yasi.  Left with a blank canvas in our front yard, we set about creating a colourful tropical garden which thrives in our humid climate.  I’m a bit of a fan of crotons….as you can see!

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If you’ve never been to Far North Queensland, then it’s certainly a “must do” on your travel calendar.  Surrounded by World Heritage listed rain forest and the Great Barrier Reef, it’s a photographers’ paradise!  These picturesque surrounds are what inspired me to start my Facebook page:  Marcia Baker iPhone Photography.

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Cinta joined our family in 2012, she’s a rescue dog.  Part boxer, part cattle and part ridgeback – she is our child and the kids say she is more spoilt than they ever where.  She doesn’t have to be told twice to jump in the car and she’s as eager as us to explore this vast country that we call home.  I just love this pic of her; not often do you see her ears standing to attention!

Cinta Wongaling Beach

At the start of 2019 we’ll begin our journey by heading south.